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Written by: Billy Splain on Wednesday, October 6th, 2021
Quest: D11 (Week 6)
After the Bethlehem Liberty Hurricanes game on Saturday night at the BASD Stadium, we had seen over half the schools in District 11 play this year, 24 of 47. The breakdown so far was 18 varsity teams and six JV teams, and nine first-ever visits to go along with 15 stadiums we had been to in past years. And after adding the Nazareth Blue Eagles JV team play Monday, it upped our total to 25 stadiums, which means we have been averaging more than four games per week, all different schools, for the first six weeks of the regular season. I think we are doing OK!
22) THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 30. BLUE MOUNTAIN EAGLES. Let’s squeeze in one final game for the month of September. Another first time visit, our eighth of the year, which also erased a “Coulda” from Week 1 before we got serious about this. The Lehighton Indians were in town for a scheduled Thursday night tussle, and so were we. Pam had to work at Bloomsburg U. until 4:30, so she was to the west of the school. Since we live to the east of the school, it made sense for us to meet in the middle for our first game of Week 6. Nice to see parking attendants to direct cars and keep the lot organized.
Lehighton has a killer marching band, the best we had seen so far this season. If you like hot sauce and jalapeno peppers, you have to go to a game at Blue Mountain. Order a “Screaming Eagle” burger and tell them Guy & Pam sent you.
23) FRIDAY, OCTOBER 1. POCONO MOUNTAIN WEST PANTHERS. I grew up going to EPC games. Pam grew up in the Colonial League. But we both grew up as fans of Lehigh Valley High School football. Over fifteen years ago when Pam got a full-time job as a professor at Bloomsburg University, we moved to the Pocono Mountains, in the Pleasant Valley School District. I was still teaching at Freedom High School in Bethlehem at the time, and our new location was chosen to even out our commutes.
We tried and no offense is meant, but we just could not get into those Pocono-region EPC North team games. The games seemed to lack the intensity (both on the field and in the stands) found at most of the Lehigh Valley games. We went to a few games, mostly at Pleasant Valley, but soon returned each Fall Friday to Valley gridirons.
Thus, this past Friday we found ourselves with a high school stadium only 25 minutes from home that we had never been to. I honestly didn’t even know where the school was located! After having finished off seeing all the Colonial League stadiums the week before at Notre Dame—Green Pond, we had two left from the EPC, both North schools of course, to see.
So off we went to Pocono Mountain West. This was one of the strangest stadiums we have seen. It features a beautiful turf field, nice stands, press box, lighting, scoreboard, and public address system. Yet it has no refreshment stand or restrooms inside the fence. Never before have I had to get a hand stamp to go take a leak. The refreshment stand was nothing more than three canopies set up on the grass, also outside the stadium. We try to support every team by eating at the game most of the time, but in this case the single line moved slower than my patience reserve would allow.
The late Saturday morning Lehighton High School home JV game was cancelled for the second straight week. At least this week they updated their published online schedule to reflect that there would be no JV football in Lehighton again. With no other new D11 daytime options, we were forced to settle for Yale at Lehigh in Bethlehem. It is very probable now that Lehighton will be one of the schools we don’t get to this season and will have to carry over to next year.
24) SATURDAY OCTOBER 2. BETHLEHEM LIBERTY HIGH SCHOOL HURRICANES. As I spent a tad under 30 years teaching in the BASD, this was home turf for me. Since we had four hours to kill between the Lehigh and Liberty games, we headed to a sports bar for dinner and to watch some, you guessed it, football. Thus, we did not eat at the stadium. Good thing, as the fresh cut fry truck, a staple at this stadium for decades, was absent. Boo hiss.
The Bethlehem Areas School District has instituted a “clear bag” only policy for their games this season. Of the 25 schools we have seen play at home so far, this is the only school with such a policy. Overkill, IMO.
Lehighton’s status as the best band we have seen this season lasted but two days, as no school tops the Liberty Grenadier marching band. No fewer than four football players also played in the band’s halftime show, which is quite cool.
Liberty is having a tough season and the visiting Blue Eagles of Nazareth were certainly the favorites. But the city boys from Bethlehem played hard-nosed football and made a good game of it.
25) MONDAY OCTOBER 4. NAZARETH BLUE EAGLES JV. We had delusions of grandeur, and dreamed of a first-ever Monday JV double. It looked fairly easy, with Allentown Central Catholic playing at 4:00 at the JV alterna-site of Percy Ruhe (Alton) Park. Only a 20-minute drive away, Whitehall was supposed to host Parkland at 6:15. With JV games having ten minute quarters, and the Whitehall JV game likely starting a bit late due to the freshmen game preceding, it didn’t seem too difficult to make both game in their entirety. The weather did not look good, and I assume that was the reason that Whitehall cancelled in the morning.
Without the double that included a new school for the year, the ACC alterna-site JV game dropped back on our “hit list.” The weather looked like thunderstorms would arrive in early evening so it made sense to pick the earliest starting remaining game. That was Marian Catholic at 5:00, and the hourly forecast looked good. I no sooner went to tell Pam of our change in plans, than the Marian game status changed to cancelled.
Plan C was to head to Nazareth. Not being able to count on hot food at JV games, we stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings on the way. The entire trip was risky due to the weather, but the weather held and the entire JV game was played with only a couple of drops falling.
By the way, the refreshment stand at Nazareth was the best of the seven we had seen so far for the Saturday morning or Monday afternoon JV games.
Looks like our week seven schedule might already be cut from four additional teams to three. But it’s only Tuesday, so you never know what schedule changes may happen between now and the weekend.
ALTERNA-SITE FIELDS. Thanks to former Liberty assistant Basketball coach Mike Bachman, we added a fourth school to our list of JV teams that play their games at fields different from where their varsity plays. To the previous list of Allentown Central Catholic / Percy Ruhe Park, Freedom High School / FHS Turf Field, and Lehighton / Old Football Stadium, we can add Bethlehem Catholic who plays their JV games at their high school. Besides Bach, current Nazareth assistant Rob Petrosky, current ACC assistant Geoff Laird, and former Catty assistant Brad Bloszinsky provided information on the potential different JV field locations. Thank you to them. Pam and I will tack those on to the end of the list of whatever teams we don’t get to see this year and carry over to next year.
SEASON SUMMARY (25 DIFFERENT D11 SCHOOLS/TEAMS)
1a) Friday—Salisbury Township Falcons (3A). Note: First half—game suspended due to lightning
2) Saturday (Noon)–Allentown Central Catholic Vikings (4A). Note: Conclusion of final three quarters of game suspended by lightning
3) Saturday (Afternoon)—Wilson Area Warriors (4A)
1b) Saturday (Evening)—Salisbury Township Falcons (3A). Note: Returned for second half of game suspended by lightning
4) Monday—Northwestern Lehigh Tigers JV (4A)
5) Thursday—Northern Lehigh Bulldogs (2A)
6) Friday—Emmaus Hornets (6A)
7) Saturday (Morning)—Northampton Area Konkrete Kids JV (6A)
8) Saturday (Afternoon)—Pen Argyl Green Knights. (2A)
9) Saturday (Evening)—Pleasant Valley Bears (6A)
10) Tuesday—East Stroudsburg South Cavaliers JV (5A).
11) Friday—Nativity BVM Green Wave (1A)
12) Saturday—Saucon Valley Panthers JV (4A)
13) Sunday—Shenandoah Valley Blue Devils (2A)
14) Monday—Tamaqua Blue Raiders (3A). Note: Game suspended at halftime but called complete
15) Tuesday—Bangor Slaters JV (4A)
16) Friday—Panther Valley Panthers (2A)
17) Saturday (Afternoon)—Bethlehem Catholic Golden Hawks (4A)
18) Saturday (Evening)—Pine Grove Cardinals (3A)
19) Monday—Stroudsburg Mountaineers JV (6A)
20) Friday—Mahanoy Area Golden Bears (A)
21) Monday—Notre Dame-Green Pond Crusaders (3A)
22) Thursday—Blue Mountain Eagles (4A)
23) Friday—Pocono Mountain West Panthers (5A)
24) Saturday—Bethlehem Liberty Hurricanes (6A)
25) Monday—Nazareth Blue Eagles JV (6A)
COULDAS & WOULDAS
COULDA. Week 1—Tri Valley. A Friday team that played Saturday evening due to rain. We returned to Salisbury to see the second half of the Catty game instead.
COULDA. Week 1—Marian Catholic. Played Sunday due to rain, but we had already committed to the sprint car races at Bloomsburg Fair Raceway.
WOULDA. Week 3—Dieruff. We were all set to go to see Dieruff on Saturday night, but their game was postponed to a day when we already had another game scheduled, and there were no other Saturday night options.
WOULDA. Week 5—Lehighton. Saturday morning/afternoon JV game cancelled but Big Teams calendar not updated and we made the trip. Another game is scheduled for this Saturday, so hoping to wipe out this Woulda then.
WOULDA. Week 6—Lehighton again. For the second straight week, the late morning Saturday JV game at Lehighton was cancelled. This time the online schedule was updated so we didn’t make the trip for nothing. But there was no other different D11 replacement for us, so it becomes another Woulda.
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